Implications of the Built Food Environment

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Lake and Townshend 2006 Lake and Townshend define the 'built' food environment as that environment which influences food choice (262-264). What this model implies is that food choice, and thus the health consequences of those choices, are determined to a large extent by food availability, cost, and advertising. To extend this model further, Lake and Townshend suggest that a built food environment can be 'obesogenic', which implies that the built food environment promotes weight gain. As Lake and Townshend discuss, the obesogenic nature of a built food environment is relevant given the rapid rise in obesity over the past three decades in most western countries (262). With approximately 30,000 premature deaths each year being attributed to obesity in the United Kingdom, the importance of understanding the causes of obesity cannot be understated. To better understand the magnitude of this figure, 64,000 British citizens died in 2011 from ischaemic heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country (Office for National Statistics). The annual health burden of obesity in the UK is estimated to be $5.3-5.9 billion U.S. dollars. If an obesogenic built environment does exist, then the implications in terms of health and healthcare costs are significant. The built food environment in the United States and other developed nations is influenced to a great extent by major food manufacturers selling processed food (Lake and Townsend 264-265). The ready availability of
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